I’m not sure what my youngest said to his brother Sunday night, but the oldest suddenly hurled a glass of water across the dinner table.

Not to be outdone, the young one grabbed his father’s cup and chucked its contents in his brother’s face. (They’ve lost their privileges and are on electronics lockdown.)

The husband was indignant. But I remember the time he came home from a reception and announced, “I poured a glass of wine over the new salesman’s head.”

This is my life. None of the men I live with wants to compromise. Every one of them vies for the last word, the final say, the definitive declaration.

They should watch me cook.

Crafting in the kitchen is a lesson in compromise. One recipe says this; another says that. Should I douse them both with liquid?

I prefer a more diplomatic approach. Season according to this expert; pan-roast according to that one. Throw in a dose of my own intuition and experience, and the result almost never disappoints.

It’s funny our water wars occurred Sunday. We were eating a dish that’s the epitome of compromise: Grouper fillets marinated a la Suzanne Goin and cooked via Thomas Keller.


They were crispy on the outside, tender within, redolent of citrus and thyme. Topped with sauteed orange slices and served on a bed of black rice and wheat berries, they made for a light-yet-filling dinner.

Too bad the boys’ were waterlogged.

A Bit Of Hers, A Bit Of His Grouper

 I love Goin’s go-to fish marinade, this time using orange zest rather than her usual lemon. (See, she compromises, too!) But at 2 inches thick, these fillets didn’t seem appropriate for her go-to cooking method of an on-the-stove saute. Keller’s pan-roasting technique, detailed in “Ad Hoc At Home,” was the perfect approach.

You could serve these over any chewy grain. I had some wheat berries from an earlier dinner that I combined with cooked black rice, orange juice and more zest and thyme.

Another (delicious) compromise!

  • 4 grouper fillets, 6- to 7-ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

grouper rawPat the grouper fillets dry and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine the parsley, thyme and orange zest. Sprinkle over the fillets, then cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Remove the fish from the fridge 15 minutes before you want to cook it.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large, oven-safe saute pan, heat the butter and olive oil over a medium-high to high flame. When the butter is foaming, add the fillets, seasoned side down. Cook for 4 minutes.

Turn the fish over, then place the saute pan in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes.

Remove the fish and cool slightly. Plate atop the side dish of your choice. Remove all water glasses a safe distance from your children’s dinner plates.